IDSA COMMENT

India’s Maoists: The Party shall be over!

September 7, 2012


There has been little change in the influence of Naxalites, or Left Wing Extremists (LWE), across the country over the past couple of years. Speaking at the annual conference of police chiefs, the Union Home Minister said on September 14, 2009 that 223 districts across 20 States are variously (moderate to intense) affected by the Naxalites. According to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), there are two parameters for classifying districts as Naxalite affected –– districts from which violet activities have been reported and districts where their presence has been detected. On August 29, 2012, replying to Question Number 1943 in the Rajya Sabha, the Union Minister of State for Home Affairs said that in 2011 “a total number of 84 districts in India witnessed violent activities of some nature…”, while 119 more districts reported Naxalite presence in the form of “over-ground activity of the Front Organizations of the CPI (Maoist) and other LWE (Left Wing Extremist) outfits”. Thus, “the total number of such districts (LWE affected) in 2011 was 203 …”

Nor has the Maoists’ destructive capacity witnessed any significant decline. Replying to another question, Question Number 2611, in the Lok Sabha on August 28, 2012, the Union Minister of State for Home Affairs said: “There is a marginal decline in incidents of damage to economic infrastructure by the Left-Wing Extremism (LWE) in the country during the last three years. Thus, a total of 362 economic targets were damaged in 2009, while 365 were hit in 2010, 293 in 2011 and 184 in 2012, until 31 July 2012.”

  2009 2010 2011 2012
(Upto 31.7.2012)
  Total   Total   Total   Total
Economic
targets
Andhra Pradesh Uranium Mines    0 17 0  24 0 18 0 (0)  5 (10)
Essar steel 0 0 0 0 (0)
Chhattisgarh NMDC 2 11 2 0 (1)
  Essar pipe lines 1 1 0 0 (0)
BRO 0 0 0 0 (0)
Gramin Sadak Nirman Yojana 4 3 4 1 (4)
Odisha Essar pipe lines 5 1 2 1 (0)
Gramin Sadak
Nirman Yojana
2 4 3 2 (2)
Maharashtra BRO 0 1 1 0 (0)
Madhya Pradesh Gramin Sadak Nirman Yojana 0 1     0  1(0)
Bihar Cement Plant 0 0 0 0 (0)
Solar Plate 2 0 0 0 (0)
Gramin Sadak Nirmal Yojana 1 1 2 0 (2)
Jharkhand Gramin Sadak Nirmal Yojana 0 1 3 0 (0)
Essar Pipe lines 0 0 1 0 (1)
Railway Andhra Pradesh   0  46 1  54 0  31 0 (0)  9 (22)
Bihar   8 16 3 1 (3)
Chhattisgarh   5 8 11 6 (5)
Jharkhand   17 13 10 2 (7)
Maharashtra   0 0 0 0 (0)
Odisha   10 7 7 0 (7)
West Bengal   6 7 0 0 (0)
Uttar Pradesh   0 2 0 0 (0)
Telephone exchange/
tower
Andhra Pradesh   0  67 4  45 2 51 1 (1)  23 (27)
Bihar   24 14 25 10 (18)
Maharashtra   1 1 2 1 (0)
Chhattisgarh   10 2 3 0 (2)
Jharkhand   14 6 8 3 (3)
Odisha   18 17    11   7 (3)
West Bengal   0 1 0 0 (0)
Madhya Pradesh   - - - 1(0)
Power plant Andhra Pradesh   0 2 1  3 0  
0
0 (0) 0 (0)
Chhattisgarh   0 0 0 0 (0)
West Bengal   0 1 0 0 (0)
Maharashtra   2 1 0 0 (0)
 Mining Odisha   1 3 1 9 1  6 0 (1)  1 (6)
Jharkhand   2 6 2 0 (2)
Chhattisgarh   0 0 3 1 (3)
AP   0 0 0 0 (0)
Maharashtra   0 1 0 0 (0)
W.B.   0 1 0 0 (0)
Pole/
transmission
Chhattisgarh   7 7 1 2 3 3 0 (2) 0 (2)
Odisha   0 0 0 0 (0)
Jharkhand   0 1 0 0 (0)
Panchayat Bhawan Chhattisgarh   0 23 3 31 0  10 0 (0)  3 (4)
Jharkhand   7 4 0 1 (0)
Andhra Pradsesh   0 0 0 0 (0)
Maharashtra   8 6 6 1 (0)
Bihar   3 0 1 0 (1)
Odisha   3 11 1 1 (1)
West Bengal   2 7 2 0 (2)
School Building Chhattisgarh   7 71 13 39 2  27 3(0)  3 (13)
Andhra Pradesh   0 1 0 0 (0)
Jharkhand   37 7 6 0 (3)
Bihar   21 10 18   0(10)
Maharashtra   1 0 0   0 (0)
Odisha   5 8 1   0 (0)
Forest  road, culverts etc.     126 126 158 158 147 147 119(98) 119(98)
 TOTAL 362 362 365 365 293 293 163 (182) 163 (182)

* Figures in parantheses are of corresponding period for 2011

Source: Annexure to Lok Sabha Question No. 2611, August 28, 2012, “Incidents of Economic Targets by LWE Extremists All over the Country”.

On the positive side, however, according to the Union Home Minister, “[s]ince the year 2009, significant spatial reduction in LWE violence has been noticed in Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh.”

Source: Chart prepared from statistics made available by the Ministry of Home Affairs,
New Delhi

Moreover, the Maoists have suffered several body blows in the past few years. At the 9th Unity Congress held in January 2007, the Maoists elected 34 leaders to the apex and all-powerful Committee. As of August 2012, the strength of this apex leadership has been reduced drastically and now stands at 19. Some of them have been arrested, others have been killed in encounters with the security forces, and one has surrendered to the authorities.

Naxalite/Maoist violence, presence and influence would, eventually, decline in the various other affected States, too. For this, besides deploying the security forces, it is equally necessary to ensure that (a) development schemes and programmes reach the target groups in remote and interior areas, (b) institutions of governance are invigorated, and (c) political parties re-occupy the space they had ceded to the Maoists.

Patience, concerted effort and silent work shall no doubt make the Maoists irrelevant.

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Undeniably yes but . . . by Keshav Prasad Bhattarai